Ever since their early releases and in particularly with their impressive “Lightdark”, it became quite clear that the Italian band Nosound, who initially started as a studio project by Giancarlo Erra, forged a very distinguishable and somehow original sound based on faded boundaries between progressive rock, ambient, electronics and post rock. By the time of their brand new album “Afterthoughts”, that reasonably high-quoted sound reached an even higher peak, as did the general feeling of Nosound’s “inner spirit”. Let’s get deeper together with Giancarlo Erra. Nosound’s “Afterthoughts” comes out on Kscope, home base of many key producers of that scene, including Richard Barbieri, Steve Wilson and his astonishing side projects, The Pineapple Thief, Anathema, Anekdoten, Lunatic Soul.
Chain D.L.K.: Hi Giancarlo. How are you?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): Hi Vito, very good thanks. Quite busy and hectic time with all the promotion for the new album, but this is the most exciting time: first preorders are going to be shipped these days, so in a way we start now enjoying the result of all the hard work of the last two years.
Chain D.L.K.: I’ve been following the evolution of your band since your astonishing first record on K-Scope, so I don’t really need introduction of NoSound, but could you introduce your project to our readers?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): Nosound started as my personal one-man project in 2002, only to then become an EP and our official first album (“Sol29”) in 2005. Being all self-produced and published required huge amounts of time and work/money but in the end the reception from critics and public was quite good and we arrived as a band to the second album, “Lightdark”. This was the first self-produced release and after a very successful pre-order campaign (and a few thousands copies sold worldwide) we signed with Kscope and we released “Lightdark” again in the 2CD digibook version still being sold today. Since then we published another studio album, “A Sense Of Loss”, an album of reinterpretations (“The Northern Religion Of Things”), a reissue of our first debut “Sol29”, an EP last year (“At The Pier”) and now we’re about to release our new studio work called “Afterthoughts”.
Chain D.L.K.: …and what about your personal background before NoSound?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): I always loved music, I always tried playing music, ever since I a was kid, first on a keyboard that was taller than me, then with my first guitar. And I always worked on my own things more than playing other people’s music… from the double-deck tape (one playing and one recording with my guitar added in the aux in!) to the first Amiga, PC, Mac. I privately released a few demos before Nosound, but they were more collections of half completed songs. At some point I realized that the material started having a coherence, an identity, and that’s when I started with the idea of giving it a name.
Chain D.L.K.: You’ve been (and maybe you still are) “president” of the Porcupine Tree Italian fan club. Would you say Wilson’s band had an influence on NoSound?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): I’m not sure I was president of anything… 🙂 I just know I really loved early PT material and helped Steven and the band when they were still unknown. In Rome there was a good number of people digging their music, and it was probably the first ‘fan club’ of PT at the time (late ’90es). I think early PT material was heavily influenced by Pink Floyd, I used to call PT ‘Pink Floyd evolved’, and the music of Pink Floyd is one of my main influences and one of the best bands in music history, in my opinion, so for sure we share several things with early PT music and it was a good influence as well! But Nosound always had a predominant post rock element while PT had more of a ‘metal’ influence and so we’ve evolved in different directions I think.
Chain D.L.K.: One of the features of your music is the intimate side of lyrics…What’s the main source for inspiration for them?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): It is simply my life, all of the lyrics on all Nosound albums are always the result of my own direct life experiences, feelings, thoughts, I could not write about or as someone else because I think I can only be 100% honest and true about my own things, and I don’t accept any kind of compromise in music. Obviously it is possible to write beautiful songs about invented topics or about someone else’s feelings, but Nosound is the 100% honest and direct expression of my feelings, life and inner world: in the lyrics, in the package, in the music, and I want it to continue being this way and keeping this, let’s call it, purity.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you remember the very first reaction from K-Scope’s headquarters after listening to your music?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): I was not there when they listened to my music for the first time. With Kscope it does not work that you go there or you send something and you’re there. They were in contact with our manager and the people I worked with, what I remember was what I felt… after years of very hard work, leaving behind everything else including family and friends, I felt that what I was working for finally arrived and a new start was indeed arriving. Since then the work never stopped, but being able to work as a musician playing my own music is a privilege and it has a price of time I that I always have to be ready to pay.
Chain D.L.K.: Just a curiosity… I imagine you met Wilson many times… what do you speak about?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): He’s very busy, and we don’t live in the same city, so we meet mainly for some gigs related to Kscope artists or to his projects, and in the short time we have we just speak about our projects. He was for sure a good mentor when I released “Sol29”, and he encouraged me to keep on going and to focus more and more on my idea, on what I wanted to achieve, and only then taking other people with me… and indeed that was an excellent suggestion!
Chain D.L.K.: Finally your new album is ready! Are there any aspects you privileged more than others in your past releases…
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): I think the new album is a much more mature work, relaxed but also much more focused in sound and writing. The way I like to think about it now, is that all the work on the music was very natural for me, I knew what I was going to obtain, I had in my head what was to be the final work, but it was not always easy to deal with all the odds, and in the process we also had our keyboard player and drummer who offered their own artistic ways. So all in all it was quite hard sometimes, but at the same time I was very confident, and I let the music speak for itself. Also for the production, I was much less obsessed by perfection, but naturally more concentrated on the feeling of the parts and of the sound. All this was helped a lot by the enthusiasm of the band, who was able once more to enter into my world and bringing something new that perfectly fit into it.
Chain D.L.K.: Would you say that red-haired model is the main character of your album…what’s her real or imaginary story? How does she feed her thoughts?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): In a way she probably is… probably most of all she’s the representation of the real characters I’m talking about in the album. I took that photo in Rome, and I always had it in my mind because it perfectly expressed the ‘thinking’ mood of Nosound music. Once the album came out and it showed itself to be about afterthoughts, I immediately knew that that was going to be the cover, it’s just perfectly fitting because it is the result of the same feeling, one in music the other in picture.
Chain D.L.K.: A recurring element of your lyrics is the sea, which sounds like the engine of many spurts of soul… How come?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): I was born in Rome and when I was a child I spent several months with my grandparents in a house near the sea. For some reason that place remained magical for me, I returned there many and many times as a teenager and adult, every time I felt happy or desperately lost, and I have tons of memories linked with that place, the most happy and most sorrowful moments of my life. Now sadly that house is sold, but I come back there every time I can, and every time I think about it I can remember something, and they are always very strong feelings…
Chain D.L.K.: Another recurring element is absence… is there a hidden or invisible addressee in your lyrics?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): Yes I always talk about absence, because melancholy and feeling of absence of the past is always a constant element of my life. Most of the time I’m a very happy and positive person, and it’s when I like to live, go outside for a walk, be with people, but when I feel on the other side, the dark one, then music is the only way I know to take such feelings out of me, admit them to myself, and transform them into something beautiful… it is the power of music: taking sadness and melancholy out and transforming it in something beautiful.
Chain D.L.K.: What about the videoclip of “Wherever You Are”?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): I’m particularly linked to that song and lyrics, for several reasons. First of all it’s more complex and more story telling (like “Two Monkeys”), and also it contains what might be the most uplifting and positive lyrics of all Nosound albums towards the end… even if at the end the ‘Wherever You Are’ poses a doubt about it all… The video follows these two parts very well, being part of memories and part story telling following the music and lyrics. I very much enjoyed doing the video, even if it was a long job to try to well integrate those memories with a more scripted story.
Chain D.L.K.: Are there any other forthcoming videoclips from “Afterthoughts”?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): Nothing planned at the moment, we are preparing more promotional material but still no precise plans confirmed!
Chain D.L.K.: Any anticipation about forthcoming tours or concerts?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): At the moment playing live is not very easy, unless you can bring in hundreds of people every night, and even much bigger bands than us are having serious financial problems. We are planning a possible mini tour to promote the album and we’ll soon have confirmations of some single gigs… as soon as we’ll have something confirmed we’ll post about it on our websites.
Chain D.L.K.: Who’s that “She” you sing about in the song by the same-name?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): I don’t like to talk in details or give references to real life in my lyrics, and so in a way I hope everyone will imagine the details and will put in my lyrics their own stories and feelings. On “She” there are two characters and stories, and the whole song is a mixture of the past and the present, until the end when ‘you become her and she becomes you’. There is again an unavoidable link between the past and the present that we always have to admit and live with at some point.
Chain D.L.K.: …and who’s the Encounter indeed?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): The tracks are all linked by lyrics and the themes, in the order they are presented, so in a way “Encounter” is what happened before “She”. As I said I don’t like talking in details about the lyrics as they are very personal, but I think if you read them one after the other the connection will be obvious, and I’ll be happy if, as it ha already happened with our previous albums, people will be able at the same time to feel what I wrote about and to make those feeling their own and linked to their own life.
Chain D.L.K.: Any bizarre or strange coincidence occurring during the recording of the album? What about your collaborators?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): I have no memory of bizarre things, but for sure several positive and uplifting moments, the contribution of the whole band was absolutely central to this album. And I mean not only playing and recording, but most of all with the support, the will to enter my world and to bring it out the best in everyone, in the best possible way, in a very selfless way that I have to admit I always found in all the people who played with me in Nosound. The freshness, more mature and more focused nature of this album is thanks to their help and support, I felt that everyone was walking in the same direction and with an overwhelming enthusiasm… and that made “Afterthoughts” possible more than anything else.
Chain D.L.K.: You have a passion for photography as well, haven’t you? Nosound touches the listener’s heart with music, lyrics and images… do you consider visual aspects as somehow essential or an inescapable element of it or not?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): You’re right, the visual side of Nosound was always as important as the music. When I think about music I always have a visual counterpart in my mind, and the same happens when I go around with my camera/camcorder/iPhone or when I simply observe the world around me… I always have a soundtrack in my head, they are simply one thing for me. Packaging for Nosound is not a package, it’s part of the music, and I’m very happy with Kscope because they share this feeling and are always more than happy to invest in seriously high quality no-compromises packaging. I just can’t understand when there are beautiful albums and horrible covers or artwork, and that happens I think quite often! For me it is unthinkable to let someone else do a cover for Nosound music, or design or the pictures, the music is deeply personal so I’m the only one knowing what it is all about, and even choosing between pictures taken by someone else would feel not natural, not pure, not in the way I interpret art and Nosound music. For the same reason I also do all the videos and basically everything… it requires a lot of work to be able to do all those things, but it’s what makes a Nosound album/cover/video unmistakably Nosound in the end.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the worst compliment and the best disapproval you received for your music?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): Nice one! 🙂 The worst compliment I think is every time we’re included in the ‘neo prog’ or ‘symphonic prog/rock’ genre… two kinds of music I usually quite dislike! The best disapproval is every time they say this music is coherent, slow tempo, not offering a spike or some harder part or sound… this is really the best compliment! That’s exactly the kind of albums I always wanted and liked as a listener, and every time I’m happy to know it’s what I naturally do also for Nosound. Sometimes I’m being asked if I ever thought about writing a song a that’s bit more this or a bit more that way, and it’s always very hard to make people understand that if I’ll ever write a song thinking about doing it more ‘this way’ or more ‘that way’ then it will not be a Nosound song, because I leave such thinking to others and I just try to keep inspiration as free and away as possible from planning and reasoning.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s silence in your own words?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): Silence for me is very important, and it means several things. It means a pause to underline more what’s before and after it, but it’s also a moment to collect and sort out feelings and emotions before accepting them or letting them out. Probably most importantly for me silence is a moment for myself, alone or in the middle of a crowd. It is what I look for to find myself again.
Chain D.L.K.: Due to the above-mentioned lyricism of your songs, what would you say was your very first emotional contact with poetry or songwriting?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): I honestly don’t remember, I’m a very casual poetry reader, but for sure I’ve been strongly influenced by the Classic and ancient literature from my studies. In terms of lyrics probably Pink Floyd were the first one I was really interested into, and still today I think a song like “High Hopes”, for example, is the perfect song (in terms of lyrics and music)… for sure the best and perfect Good Bye for a giant band like Pink Floyd. During years I discovered countless more lyricists and bands, from David Sylvian to several singer songwriters and pop acts as well… I certainly never liked the fantasy/space prog or bleak metal lyrics, I’m only connected to the more personal and real ones.
Chain D.L.K.: Thanks for your replies… anything to add before you click the “send” button?
Giancarlo Erra (Nosound): I’d like to say thank you for the very interesting questions, and I’d like to remind who Nosound is besides me: Paolo Vigliarolo (guitars), Alessandro Luci (bass), Marco Berni (keyboards), Giulio Caneponi (drums), Marianne De Chastelaine (cello), and in “Afterthoughts” and the EP “At The Pier” obviously Chris Maitland on drums!
visit Nosound on the web at: nosound.net